San Diego Business Journal

CCDC Chair Denies Permits for Proposed Fat City Lofts Project

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The chairman of the Centre City Development Corp., the entity that oversees redevelopment downtown, rejected permits for a proposed Fat City Lofts mixed-use project Feb. 14.

Kim John Kilkenny cited the project’s inconsistency with the city’s 2008 general plan and a CCDC community plan to support his decision, which followed a 4-2 vote by the CCDC board to reject the project.

Developers of the proposed 232-unit apartment building, with some retail space, at the corner of Hawthorne Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Jonathan Segal and GLJ Partners, said they will appeal the decision to the city’s Planning Commission.

The project complies with the city’s zoning that allows for residential development.

Solar Turbines, a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., has been actively opposing the City Lofts project for months, saying that allowing it on the site across from its downtown plant would impede its ability to operate effectively.

Solar has about 3,800 employees at its two plants, including some 1,800 at the downtown site.

To ensure that its message was heard, Solar enlisted the support of many elected officials to oppose the Fat City project.

In his remarks on denying the permits, Kilkenny said the economic prosperity element of the city’s general plan “recognizes that base sector industries should be protected and land use inconsistencies should be avoided.”

“The construction of a residential project close to Solar Turbines would result in increased regulatory burdens which may jeopardize Solar Turbines’ continued operations,” he said.

In an earlier interview, Segal said there are a number of residential units near Solar’s plant, including an apartment house he was involved in building recently that Solar never objected to. If Solar can prove that the project would cause it to shut down operations, Segal said he would drop his plans.

— Mike Allen